Welcome to the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Balancing Resource Use and Conservation
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Vegetation and Habitat

      Land Cover Types

Cottonwood land cover type found on Havasu National Wildlife Refuge - Photo by ReclamationWillow land cover type found on Palo Verde Ecological Reserve - Photo by ReclamationMesquite land cover type found on Cibola National Wildlife Refuge - Photo by Reclamation

Riparian communities identified in the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) as covered species habitat include cottonwood-willow, honey mesquite, marsh, and backwater land cover types as derived by a classification system developed by Anderson and Ohmart.  Through implementation of the HCP, 5,940 acres of cottonwood-willow, 1,320 acres of honey mesquite, 512 acres of marsh and 360 acres of backwater land cover types will be created to provide habitat for the LCR MSCP covered species.  Many targeted species have different habitat requirements that can be provided at each habitat creation site through the design and maintenance of habitat mosaics, especially through manipulation of plant species composition, stand seral stages, tree densities, and water regimes.


Species Description Photo
Cottonwood-Willow This land cover type comprises winter-deciduous, broadleaf trees that grow to about 60 feet tall.  The dominant tree species are Fremont cottonwood and Goodding’s willow, although other willow species may be present.  The community occurs in deep, well-watered loamy alluvial soils along the floodplain of Colorado River and its tributaries.  To be maintained it requires periodic winter or spring flooding that creates new silt beds for seed germination.  Cottonwoods typically are present in far smaller amounts than are willows. Arrowweed - Photo by Reclamation
Honey-Mesquite This land cover type occurs on the broad alluvial floodplains of the Colorado River, on secondary and higher terraces above the main channel. It is a phreatophyte that avoids water stress by a taproot that is able to reach deep water tables.  It typically forms monotypic stands of trees that are less than 30 feet in height.  It can also grow interspersed with other shrubby species such as arrowweed, quailbush, saltbush, and wolfberry. Honey Mesquite at the Ahakav Tribal Preserve 2007 - Photo by Reclamation
Marsh Marsh land cover occurs in areas of prolonged inundation where long-term flooding persists.  Historically, it was found along oxbow lakes and in backwater areas.  The most common plant species found in the marsh land cover type are cattail, bulrush, or common reed.  Cattails occur in shallow water up to 3 feet deep.  Bulrushes can grow adjacent to cattails but in water up to 5 feet deep and can grow as high as 10 feet above the water surface. Hart Mine Marsh - Photo by Reclamation
Backwater Backwaters include oxbow lakes, abandoned river channel pools, floodplain ponds and lakes, and secondary river channel pools.  Backwaters may be permanent or temporary, drying up completely during some seasons or years.  Connections with the river may be open or in various degrees of closures, connected to the river by culverts, weirs, porous dikes, or groundwater.  This land cover type can vary in size from less than 1 acre to more than 100 acres. Big Bend Conservation Area - Photo by Reclamation

Updated January 7, 2020